Opening batsmen and the first powerplay

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The reduced nature of today’s match demanded he play in a different way, but of late England have been playing Andrew Strauss in an ‘anchor’ role as one of their opening batsmen. This seems to be a colossal misunderstanding of one-day cricket in our eyes.

The role of the anchor is to bat as many overs as possible and provide solidity at one end. Despite what many think, this sort of batsman does still have a place in modern one-day cricket. That place is not opening however – it is at number three or four.

The one entirely predictable powerplay in a one-day match is the first one. For the first ten overs, the field is in and the batsmen deal in boundaries. This is one fifth of your batting overs. It’s nonsensical to have a so-called ‘anchor’ taking half the strike in this time.

If you’ve got boundary hitting openers and anchor batsmen at three and four, you can attack with impunity from the off, knowing that if wickets fall, you’ve got the right men coming in to rebuild. If you’ve got your attacking batsmen at three and four (England have Pietersen and Shah), early wickets mean your attacking batsmen play in a more reserved fashion, which is a waste.

If you’ve got boundary hitting openers and they don’t get out, you get a flying start. If you’ve an anchor there and he doesn’t fail, he just eats up the boundary hitting overs ‘building a foundation’.

Building a foundation for what? The five over powerplay that the batting team can use when they want? This floating island of slogging can occur whenever the batting team chooses, but you can’t base your plans around it for two reasons. One, it’s impossible to know how the match will unfold. Two, it’s only half the length of the opening powerplay which MUST occur in the first ten overs.

The first batting powerplay is the one time in a match when you can be sure which batsmen will be at the crease and what the field will be like. Being wholly predictable, it’s the one part of the game you can properly plan for.


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  1. In fact the opening of the ODI is almost always 15 powerplay overs, because you also know that the fielding captain will (at least want to) deploy his 5 over powerplay immediately after the first one.

    Still, Straussy seems to be converting himself into Trescothick at the moment, making KC’s serious and valuable point obsolete.

    That’s how fast it happens here at King Cricket.

  2. A fine analysis, KC, and one that will almost certainly rule you out as the next England coach.

    One day cricket has only been around for forty years now, so England are still learning how to play it. Whenever two of England’s ODI batsmen meet in the middle to touch gloves, I have this image of them saying “So, what are you here to do?” “Dunno. You?”

  3. I agree with you that England have not yet found the correct formula in ODI’s and have struggled in the recent past.
    Though they have had some good results in tests over the past 5 years, their ODI performances have been very dodgy and inconsistent.
    Time now for them to look at the batting order seriously and come up with something more sensible.

  4. Judging by the way the Wing Commander was tonking the ball about from the off yestereday he agrees with you O king. Had you been having words with him? If so – can you further advise him that Dyson applying as England coach as suggested on SSN today is not a spiffing wheeze?

  5. Has this been the most tedious English tour of recent years? 4 (or was it 5) tests, 4 (or was it 3) without a win/loss result. A ODI series that we seem to be doing our best to lose, only to foul that up by pulling ridiculously large rabbits out of weather-beaten hats (how typically english – can’t we at least get losing right?). At least the County season starts in 10 days.

  6. I’ll go with that. Certainly what the windies have been doing for a while now with Gayle and AN Other vs Shiv and Sarwan.

    Maybe England should go nuts and reverse the entire order… would we get a better total on average if all the tail enders were sent out with the order to feel lucky, and leave a pair dead cert blockers at 10 and 11 to ensure the overs at least get filled.

  7. King has unwittingly put his finger on the nub of the matter (I’m probably doing him a disservice with that last statement – there’s every chance that he fingered that nub wittingly). As messrs Duckworth and Lewis pointed out to the world some years ago, one-day matches are all about resources – wickets in hand and overs remaining. If you are going to take a risk, in any field, you do so when the loss of your resources damages you least. In this case, that is when you have the most wickets in hand and the most overs remaining. Or, to put it in terms the England management might understand, AT THE START OF THE BLOODY INNINGS YOU PILLOCKS.

  8. Only another 4 ODIs and 2 Tests against the West Indies to go before we can look forward to being humiliated by someone new.

  9. England’s IPL players should go for the whole session to the cricket school that pays while you learn. Why keep them here to play WIndies B?

    Letting them go would be such a cheap way to make the players happy again, give them equal chances and save the ECB having to say sorry as The Spin advocates.

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